DEERING One hundred years ago the Deering community was in need of a place to worship God and hold religious classes. Seven ambitious and determined ladies of the region brainstormed and soon Deering Lutheran Church was founded for the purpose of maintaining and promoting religious worship.
The ladies Mrs. Lewis Anderson, Mrs. Andrew Lindland, Mrs. George Mickleson, Mrs. Randina Elstad, Mrs. Anton Evenson, Mrs. Peter Hatley and Mrs. Jacob Simonson with the assistance of the Rev. Edward Struxness, of Mohall, in 1914, moved forward. They became part of a five-point parish: Nidaros at Wolseth, Our Saviors east of Glenburn, St. Olaf northeast of Deering, Emmanual southwest of Deering and Deering Lutheran in the village of Deering. One pastor served the five churches.
Acreage one and a half miles southeast of Deering was purchased from A.H. Lindland in 1915. The land would be the site for the Deering Lutheran Cemetery. The first burial there was in 1915.
Early worship services were held in homes and were conducted in Norwegian.
The women would meet monthly for Bible study with the pastor serving as the leader but they wanted more. They wanted a building where worship services could be held. The ladies stayed busy raising money at ice cream socials, basket socials, shadow socials and by selling lunch at auction sales. During shadow socials women would stand behind a curtain or sheet with a box lunch. As a light would shine on the ladies through the curtain, men would place their bets on the shadow. The woman chosen would be their supper date.
Their hard work paid off. In 1922, the present basement of the church was built at a cost of $878.25 and the Ladies Aid was able to pay for it. There was now a place for church services and for Bible study classes too.
The first pastor was the Rev. T. Bergh. He served from 1914 to 1920. The Ladies Aid paid his salary of $200 per year.
The first baptism was recorded in 1912 and the first confirmation class was in 1916.
Times changed and in 1932 it was decided that two out of three services should be in English, not Norwegian. A vote in 1939 determined that there would be only four Norwegian services per year and in 1941 it was determined that all services would be in English.
The Rev. T.J. Weltzin served the parish from 1941 to 1946.
The pastor’s salary was increased $50 per year to $250 in 1944. That same year the church building of Free Methodist, located in Deering, was purchased for $1,700.
The congregation was without a pastor in 1947 and 1948. The Rev. Ivan Vellum, of Maxbass, served as interim pastor until 1949 when the Rev. George Undum was called, accepted and installed. He stayed until 1955. In 1946 the pastor’s salary was increased to $350 per year.
Six years after Free Methodist church was purchased it was moved to the basement the Ladies Aid had built. It is used today as the main sanctuary with an addition on the east and a narthex on the west side added in 1971.
The women of the church were given the right to vote in 1953.
Emmanuel Lutheran withdrew from the Wolseth Parish in 1955, thinking it would be a better fit to have a four-point parish rather than a five-point parish. It was decided by the remaining four churches that because of declining membership and attendance it would work more efficiently to maintain only two churches instead of four. Our Saviors congregation moved to Glenburn and changed the name to Hope Lutheran. During that same time period the Deering Lutheran parish voted to join the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
The Rev. Edward Norby was called to serve Deering Lutheran in 1955. Five years later, in 1960, the Rev. James Pearson was called to serve. The parish changed synods in 1961 and became members of American Lutheran Church.
The city of Deering installed a water system in 1964 and a sewer system in 1966. Each of the systems were brought into the church. In 1968 Abel Beaton contributed lots that comprise the park area north of the church and in 1975 the lot adjacent to the church on the north was purchased from Don Grilley.
In 1966-67 an invitation was extended to Nidaros and St. Olaf churches to join Deering Lutheran. After much discussion, members of Nidaros and St. Olaf decided to dissolve their congregations and join Deering Lutheran.
Pearson entered the mission field in Alaska in 1970 and the Rev. Robert Connor was called to serve the parish. He served until 1987. Rob Nelson, a pastoral assistant, served from 1988 to 1991 when the church began a partnership with Bethany Lutheran, of Minot.
The Rev. Charles Taft was intern pastor while this was being organized and the Rev. Rolf Nestingen and Rev. Chris Montgomery were serving at Bethany at the time. The Rev. Timothy Solberg was installed as pastor in 1998 to replace Nestingen who left for a position in Wisconsin. Montgomery also left for a pilot program in Canada. The Rev. Janet Hernes Mathistad came as the second pastor in 1994.
Solberg left in 2005 and Mathistad moved to fill the first pastor slot in 2006. The Rev. Gerald Roise was accepted and installed as second pastor in 2007.
“It is with great excitement that the members both past and present celebrate these 100 years of ministry,” Roise said. “The focus is not only in remembering the faithfulness of past years, but looking forward to remaining a viable and important part of the Deering community for years to come,” he added.
The altar and baptismal font used at St. Olaf church northeast of Deering is now used at Deering Lutheran.
The ladies of Deering Lutheran still meet for Bible study once a month with the pastor as their leader. They also get together at the church to make quilts for homeless and needy persons. Each year two special quilts one for the Metigoshe Bible Camp auction sale and one for the fall bazaar at the church are made.
“One hundred years have passed since the time of organizing and as the clock ticks on, by the grace of God, Deering Lutheran Church has survived,” said Betty Hansen, of Deering. She has been a member of the church for about 40 years.
“By the Grace of God” is truly a fitting theme for the celebration.